Pratt Institute and NYC Media Lab recently presented “Design, Technology, and the Future,” an evening featuring interaction designer Phillip Tiongson, principal and creative director at Potion Design Studio, in conversation with Justin Hendrix, executive director of NYC Media Lab. The event, which was held on April 29 at Civic Hall on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, celebrated the launch of the new issue of the Institute’s publication DxD, which focuses on the link between design and technology. Part of the public program series Pratt Presents, the evening focused on exploring the ways in which ideas and innovation are fueling the future.

Graduate Communications Design Chair Santiago Piedrafita, whose interview with DxD is the lead article of the new issue, introduced the panelists. Throughout the evening, Tiongson, who holds a master of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and a master of fine arts degree in film directing from Columbia University, talked about his love of computers and cinema, and the inspiration behind his design thinking.

“The responsibility of designers is to push towards empathy, towards connecting people,” Tiongson said when Hendrix asked about Potion’s Shop Life installation that is currently on view at the Tenement Museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The installation is a 24-foot interactive counter that allows visitors to learn about vintage products through stories told about the shops that once sold them. Photos, videos, maps, and oral history combine to tell the story of tenement life.

Access to technology was another focal point of the discussion, and Tiongson expressed the idea that successful technology should be designed to be accessible to all, not just to a select few. He spoke about how design and technology complement each other, and discussed how important it is for designers to focus on the whole story when designing a product.

“Ultimately, I hope there is more appreciation for the process,” Tiongson said. “Not just the product, but how [the designers] got there.”

Image (L-R): Phillip Tiongson, Graduate Communications Design Chair Santiago Piedrafita, and Justin Hendrix (photo: Peter Tannenbaum)